REVIEW:New Amazon Echo Sub, More Than A Threat To Sonos Eco System
I initially bought the small Amazon Echo network speaker during a trip to New York and then when Apple Australia launched a special promotion, I purchased two Amazon Echo Plus Gen 1 360 degree speakers, now I have been able to pair the two and connect them to the new Amazon subwoofer, the output is so good that it’s goodbye Sonos speakers and their over priced sub, soundbar and Playbase.
The new Echo sub is big when compared with the actual size of the Echo speakers but when connected and this process is easy the combination of these speakers, the sub, and the fact that you have native voice command capability with Alexa built in makes this kit they must have sound system for an apartment, townhouse or any smarthouse where you need to control other devices via the Amazon Alexa eco system.
Spec wise the new subwoofer incorporates 100 Watt Class D digital amplifier with 50 – 200Hz adaptive low-pass filter, 4 litre sealed chamber with 6-inch down-firing subwoofer, 100-240 volt universal voltage (auto switching, internal power supply), Wi-Fi n (supports 2.4 & 5Ghz networks) and weighs in at 4.2kg.
What it delivers is thumping bass and an easy way to expand the capabilities of your Echo home sound system and serious value for money.
For nearly a decade Sonos has been popular but innovation and value has overtaken the US sound Company with organisation like Amazon now deliver superior competition to Sonos.
To buy a similar Sonos subwoofer and two of their Alexa only enabled Sonos One speaker will set you back $1,599 while two new Gen 2 Amazon Echo speakers including the all new Echo sub will only cost you $600. You not only get a superior sound system you don’t have to fiddle around with the proprietary Sonos software in the setting up of the speakers. You also get native Alexa voice which was developed by Amazon.
Amazon has now expanded the capability of their next generation speakers with the Echo Sub, a standalone Echo speaker that produces bass frequencies.
You can set it up as a 1.1 system (paired with one Echo) or as a 2.1 system paired with two Echo speakers for a stereo effect as I did for this review.
Set up is extremly easy.
Firstly, you do need the Amazon Alexa app and once you have this all you have to is follow the prompts.
As for the Sub it’s reasonably heavy at 4K compared to the speakers which is why it’s best to put it on the ground and as it only needs a power supply, you can also place it in a hidden place such as cupboard or behind a settee because it is wireless and will automatically find the speakers.
When the sub was released Amazon also showed their new second generation speakers which were not supplied with the sub review unit.
Slightly shorter (15cm high) and chubbier (10cm diameter) than the gen 1 devices that I tested the sub with the new speakers come surrounded with cloth. Personally, I prefer the design of the gen 1 speakers which sound excellent with the new sub.
Some people think fabrics is the way forward for personal tech, I disagree because the gen 1 speakers were engineered from the ground up as we reported last year with one analyst group in Boston struggling to understand why Amazon spent so much money engineering and developing the speakers in the first place. I suspect that the gen 2 speakers are cheaper to produce.
This new sub is very much an Amazon family member and won’t function outside of the Echo ecosystem or if you are trying to hook up your old Sonos speakers.
Alexa’s hearing is sharp and will often pick up commands even when you are in another room.
When I tested the sub in single speaker mode, its superiority came to the surface and side by side with the Sonos One and a Sonos sub the new Amazon Echo offering came out on top.
It’s bigger bolder sound comes through with Dolby’s fine-tuning kicking in to sweep up any scrappy bits even with mid-range sound. But to really test it I played several vocals including Rod Stuart, Aretha Franklin and some Lady Ga Ga and the output was as good as several expensive sound systems.
For $600 the combination of a sub and two 360 degree Echo speakers plus Amazon Alexa at its best is a true bargain.
To get the best out of this offering you really need a true stereo setup.
What you get is soundstage output that in the past would have cost you several thousand dollars along with the pain of setting the system up.